Anna Morton, the very first client of the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator (EEIA), is this month’s #FrontandEPIcenter🌟feature. Morton, an entrepreneur engineer, developed Talking Walls, an accountability tool for energy efficiency measures in buildings. During a Startup Weekend hosted by Geekdom in 2016, where she won second place, she was introduced to a young organization called EPIcenter and was encouraged to connect with CEO Kimberly Britton. “Where and when do I apply?”, was Morton’s enthusiastic request to Britton over coffee one morning. The EEIA was still on the drawing board at the time and Britton, encouraged by her excitement, assured Morton she would be the first to know.
In the meantime, Britton connected Morton with Joey Oliver, veteran startup entrepreneur and mentor, who coached Morton to readiness for CPS Energy’s Customer Centric (C3) pitch competition in 2017. Oliver focused their efforts on the business and financial components of her idea and Talking Walls tied for first place. Morton reflected, “It was a milestone that provided the validation that my idea could be viable.”
Since those early days, the EEIA has provided strategic guidance and support to Morton as she developed the Talking Walls tool through her own company Morton Gestalt. Morton’s team expanded with the hire of a then recent graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio Matthew Coleman and eventually data analyst Joe Rivera. Morton graduated EPIcenter’s pre-incubation program in 2018 and then joined the EPIcenter incubator program in 2019. Through the EEIA programs, Morton worked with EPIcenter business coaches and mentors, led by EEIA Chief Andi Littlejohn, developing her technology while also growing and maturing as a leader and business owner.
Morton said, “So much of growing professionally is about taking risks and putting yourself out there. There is a lot of value in showing up and it is helpful to know you have support when you do that. With the direction of our coaches and mentors, we progressed as a company in ways I would have never thought of on my own. We were more polished and focused because of that outside input.”
In late 2020, Morton was approached by an engineering firm, dbHMS out of Chicago, which expressed interest in hiring her and her team to expand its operation in its research-driven design support studio, Databased + into Texas. The firm also saw possibilities for applications for the Talking Walls technology. Morton views this as an opportunity to both advance her professional growth using many of the business skills that she learned through EPIcenter, as well leverage additional resources to continue the development of Talking Walls. Morton and her team officially joined Databased + in January 2021 and she is motivated to build great buildings in San Antonio. Morton looks forward to bringing the expertise and skillset of Databased + to her community.
“My goal has always been about being in San Antonio and doing good work here, especially around sustainability in the building environment. I am excited for the opportunity to take the scripts, skills, and relationships that we built at Talking Walls and Morton Gestalt and supercharge them.”
The EPIcenter team is honored to be a part of Anna Morton’s journey thus far and we cannot wait to see the continued growth of her team and technology as the work to refine the vision continues. Learn more about EEIA programs here.
EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator client Leaptran is this month’s #FrontandEPIcenter🌟feature! Jeff Xu, President and CEO, has been familiar with the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator(EEIA) since its inception in 2017 and notes that it is a great resource for energy startups. Edward Hooks, Chief Operating Officer, mentioned that EPIcenter not only expands their professional network, but also provides powerful business coaching to help them achieve and stay true to their company goals. Both Jeff and Edward enjoy how the program points them in the right direction and challenges their assumptions.
Leaptran originated from The University of Texas at San Antonio as a project focused on batteries. The technology from that project evolved, allowing Jeff and Edward to realize how expansive the technology could be not only at the building level but also at the utility level. In recognition of a commercial opportunity they licensed the technology and founded Leaptran, which offers a suite of artificial intelligence-based software solutions that help utilities and building owners manage buildings, large microgrids, and renewable power sources.
Edward said, “It’s about the data -- to give people the opportunity to run their buildings, their homes, and the grid in a more efficient manner. It is a blessing to have someone [like EPIcenter] in our corner to help us navigate these waters.”
Find out more information about our EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator programs here.
EPIcenter is excited to expand its international client base with the addition of Erco DER Services, Inc. -- this month’s #FrontandEPIcenter🌟 feature! Erco Energía is a successful startup headquartered in Colombia and focuses on the implementation and management of distributed energy resources (DER), working with utility-scale systems and photovoltaic solar roofs, electric vehicle infrastructure and energy storage systems. Erco Energía is expanding its operations to enter the U.S. and Texas markets. It has formed a company called Erco DER Services, Inc. that will be headquartered here in our hometown of San Antonio, Texas.
Erco DER Services, Inc. joined the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator this fall. Chief Operating Officer Juan Camilo said, “We want to work with EPIcenter to conduct a full assessment of Erco Energía and create market entry strategies for San Antonio, Austin, Dallas and Houston.” He continued to say, “We believe we can contribute to the growth of SanAntonio with the creation of energy-related job opportunities.”
To learn more about Erco DER Services, Inc. and the services it provides, please read our press release here. Click here if you are interested in learning more about our programs.
EPIcenter has another great startup to feature in this edition of #FrontandEPIcenter🌟, Terra Solar! Terra Solar aims to increase the accessibility of solar energy through its Solar Canopy, which providesoff-grid power and can be assembled by a non-professional without an electrician.
Terra Solar and its founder, Dr. Jennie Yoshimoto, have been in the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator since June 2019. She has been “impressed with EPIcenter’s commitment to their clients’success. They help startups succeed by investing heavily in the people within each startup.”
Along with the progress Terra Solar has made in the EEIA, Terra Solar has also recently been recognized in multiple pitch competitions. It was selected to move on as a semi-finalist in the Department of Energy’s American-Made Solar Prize, which came with $50,000 for further development of a prototype, and was featured in an article by Distributed Energy. Terra Solar was also selected as one of three finalists in the Texas State New Ventures competition and was awarded $20,000 in non-dilutive funding and access to the Texas State STAR Park. EPIcenter could not be more proud to have Terra Solar as a client.
“Our EEIA coaches and mentors have been able to anticipate our needs and provide us with the resources for each next step in our development,” Dr. Yoshimoto said when asked how EPIcenter’s program has helped them grow their business.
To learn more about the EEIA and to apply visit the Incubator page.
EPIcenter is proud to be working with the Pythias team out of the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) and to feature them on #FrontandEPIcenter🌟! Pythias is a climate risk analytics company with the mission to reduce the physical climate risk to our energy infrastructure through a systems-based decision optimization software solution.
Because their software is focused on the energy sector, the Pythias team felt it would be best to work with an incubator program with expertise in the industry. As one of the few energy-specific programs in the country, the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator (EEIA) was a clear choice.
Pythias entered the EEIA in the pre-incubation program and worked to validate the business value of their innovation and create a pitch deck. They have now graduated from the pre-incubation program and are moving into the incubation program, where EPIcenter will continue providing support as they launch their business. One of the most helpful exercises Pythias has gone through was their first practice pitch, where the mentors, coaches and subject matter experts EPIcenter brought together gave constructive feedback about their idea and its business value.
Thinking about applying for the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator? The Pythias team says, “definitely go for it! EPIcenter has a great set of staff, mentors and coaches. We would not be as developed as we are now without their support.”
To learn more about the EEIA and to apply visit the Incubator page.
Our startup client, EnVault, is this month’s #FrontandEPIcenter🌟 feature! EnVault is creating a power-pack that can replace traditional gas-powered generators to make portable power cleaner and more convenient. Looking to replace the larger generators used for utility vehicles, RVs and even food trucks, EnVault is focused on making not only a green product, but one that also reduces consumers’ cost.
While there are many incubators and accelerators to choose from, EnVault chose the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator (EEIA) because it focuses on modern-day, energy-based solutions. Of the decision EnVault said, “we chose to go with who we felt would not only instruct us in which direction to go, but actually guide us.”
To startups thinking about applying to the EEIA EnVault proposes,“Know that if you’re joining EPIcenter you are joining a group that wants to build you and your venture up. So, try to relax a bit and bring what you got. But, bring it with a passion.”
EPIcenter is very proud that EnVault, a recent graduate of EPIcenter’s Pre-incubation program, won the Geekdom Community Fund competition on December 13! After being chosen as a finalist, they competed against five other startups for the $25,000 prize. EPIcenter is excited to continue to work with EnVault as they enter EPIcenter’s Incubation program.
Thinking about applying for the EEIA? Visit the incubator page for more information and apply today!
This month’s #FrontandEPIcenter🌟 features EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator startup client, Go Smart Solar, founded by Jason Pittman and Robert Miggins! Go Smart Solar aims to make solar energy as accessible as possible by developing innovative programs to lower the price and improve the user experience. Their newly launched program, Big Sun Community Solar, in conjunction with CPS Energy, allows residents to purchase solar panels on top of solar carports across the city and receive credit on their bill based on the energy produced by the panels.
“If you’re in the energy space, the EEIA has unparalleled insight into the industry and market through their members and global advisors,” Go Smart Solar said to startups considering applying for the EEIA.
The next application deadline for the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator is September 8. Visit the incubator page for more information and to apply.
For this month’s #FrontandEPIcenter feature🌟 , EPIcenter is pleased to spotlight mentor Eugene “Gene” Brotherman. Gene is a R&D Manager for Itron and has a background in software development and testing. Prior to Itron, Gene worked for the U. S. Air Force where he specialized in assessing vulnerabilities within security systems. Gene’s experiences and expertise have been invaluable to the startups in the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator (EEIA).
Gene is also mentoring in EPIcenter’s SA Smart Challenge Implementation Training. This program works with the Challenge’s K-12 winning teams to advance their innovative ideas from ideation to implementation.
Gene said, “The SA Smart Challenge Implementation Training hits home for me because my dad was a teacher for over 20 years.” He noted that participating students are energetic and motivated to make their communities and environment better through their innovative ideas.
Click HERE to learn more about how you can make a difference through EPIcenter’s mentor program.
#FrontandEPIcenter🌟 is back to feature another fabulous mentor, David Jones! David is an attorney whose firm represents startups, entrepreneurs, and emerging companies in areas such as:
brand protection, company formation, startup and growth strategies, investing and fundraising, copyright and trademarks, business and legal agreements, IP protection, privacy policies and more. His expertise has benefitted multiple clients in the EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator such as Terra Solar, and EnVault.
Jones notes that “People who start their own business have a different mindset. They are super passionate and their business is personal to them because they are putting everything they have into their organization...the work is invigorating and my greatest joy comes from seeing the people I work with become successful.”
We could not do what we do without the support and passion of mentors like David Jones! Thank you for all you do, David. To learn more about the EPIcenter mentor program visit the Incubator page.
#FrontandEPIcenter🌟 is back with a mentor spotlight this month on Nils Frenkel! Nils is a Director with Navigant Consulting’s Energy practice. He has experience working with software-as-a-service companies, consulting organizations, and startups. With this background, Nils was a perfect fit to work with EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator client Morton Gestalt, who is developing a smart platform that compares the energy models of building designs to real-world usage data.
Nils enjoys working with startup companies, asking questions, and bringing new perspectives to help them think through how to grow their business. “Try mentoring! It’s a rewarding experience to support these founders and help them succeed,” Nils said.
We appreciate all the hard work Nils and all our mentors do. If you are interested in becoming a mentor visit the mentor page.
Our first #FrontandEPIcenter🌟features mentor Gautam Shringarpure! Gautam manages the Corporate Finance Analytics and Debt Management teams for CPS Energy. His expertise is invaluable to startups navigating early financial decisions. “The EPIcenter Energy Incubator and Accelerator is a great way to match my skill set with startups on the cutting edge. It’s exciting to be part of the process,” Gautam said.
Gautam enjoys the collaborative nature of the incubator, not just with the startups but also between mentors. Startup client Morton Gestalt said, "Gautam asks great questions. With his mentoring we’ve been able to identify the financial metrics that track our health."
To potential mentors Gautam says, “Absolutely go for it! This is fun! You can impact the future of energy, help young businesses, and help create jobs.” Thank you to Gautam for volunteering his time and talent! Mentors like you are the backbone of our program.
If you are interested in becoming a mentor visit the mentor page for more information.